If you manage teams for long enough, it’s bound to happen to you at least once, probably more. You have a great team that’s performing well and a star employee you nurtured under your wing. And then he quits.
It’s business of course, nothing personal. He gets headhunted (sorry!), or perhaps just wants a change of scenery. But the bottom line is: that star player is no longer on your team. As their manager you may feel a pang of betrayal, disappointment, anger… stop. Breathe. And follow these 5 steps:
Your head will fill with alarms “I won’t be able to meet next week’s deadline now”, “he’s our top biller, he CAN’T leave!”
The news may have come like a slap in the face but don’t treat it like that. Take a moment to collect yourself, sit down with your exiting star and discuss their resignation. If they’ve caught you off-guard and short on time, it’s ok to set up a time later in the day to discuss. Don’t feel obligated to talk it through on the spot if you can’t.
Don’t Counter Offer
A knee-jerk reaction many employers have is to scramble together a counter offer. But counter offers are almost always a bad idea. Most of the time it merely delays the inevitable and can have negative repercussions on the rest of the team. Money is hardly ever the sole factor someone resigning and those other underlying factors will still be there. Plus the cat is out of the bag and you know they don’t want to be there; the trust is gone and no amount of money will bring it back.
Don’t Disregard Their Reason for Leaving
Your jewel in the employee crown is leaving, WHY? It’s too late to save this one but you want to work on anything that might be losing you top talent. Have an open and honest discussion with your employee to find out the real reasons they’re leaving, bearing in mind it might be you. Keep an open mind, read between the lines and don’t be defensive. Accept the criticisms, evaluate their merit and take action if necessary. That’s what a good manager would do.
Don’t Freak Out Coworkers
When a heavy hitter leaves a business it can throw the rest of the office into frenzy. Why is he leaving? Is the business doing badly? Should I start looking around too?
Squash the doubt with a measured plan and a big fat smile. You should first speak with staff that may need to take on extra work and be involved in the transition phase. Assure them that there is no bad blood, you wish the employee well and there will be a hand-off period to make sure duties are covered.
Don’t Burn Bridges
To continue on with ‘not freaking out coworkers’, showing respect and gratitude towards the departing employee will go a long way to making everyone feel more comfortable. Let them say their goodbyes, don’t overload them with work and make them feel like they were a much-valued contributor. Don’t burn your bridges; you never know where this superstar will land. Perhaps they’ll make a great strategic partner?
Having an employee leave unexpectedly is never pleasant but it’s not worth losing control over. Your focus should be on the team you have, managing the change, and sourcing a new star player. Employees come and go, it’s the nature of business. All you can do is try your best to create a workplace that has more great players coming to your door.